By Andrew D. Wittman, PhD
“Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing.” Peyton Manning
Let’s look at pressure proofing ourselves, or answer the question, “How can I be more stress resistant?” Have you ever felt the washing machine effect of getting wiped out by a large wave at the beach? What about in life?
I have experienced both, the physical wave and the stress wave. A large wave, usually brought on by a storm in the distance, can be exhilarating or devastating. In either case the wave is the same, which result it brings depends on you. Have you ever seen those crazy surfers riding 80 foot waves? How can they do that and survive? They have studied waves, how they break, their characteristics, their power and force. The big wave surfer has supreme confidence in his/her own knowledge, skills, and abilities. The big kahuna has enormous respect for the wave and its destructive force, yet has learned how to ride the thundering power, bringing a thrilling experience that can only be understood by those fellow surfers with a comparable level of confidence.
Bringing it to the shore, one of the fastest ways to raise your level of confidence is by knowing what you’re doing. As a Marine grunt, training in firearms, tactics, self-defensive, first aid, and an extremely high fitness level, did wonders for my confidence. In fact, my confidence in my training was the key to pressure proofing myself when under fire.
The same holds true during my time as a federal agent. Being responsible for the safety and security of high ranking government officials (i.e. targets), required supreme confidence in being able to handle whatever threat or situation popped up. I didn’t start out with supreme confidence. I spent hours of my own time (beyond the required training), reading, studying, watching footage of assassination attempts, bombings, terrorist attacks, and even natural disaster responses.
Amazingly, when the stress levels go up, and the pressure cooker of crisis starts to spew its scalding steam, I get calmer and my performance actually gets better. Why? Because I know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it….I have supreme confidence in my training, my knowledge, my skills and my abilities.
Go to work and build upon your current confidence level. Start with fitness, then read for professional and personal development. Put the chips down, turn off the TV, and invest some time into pressure proofing yourself by raising your confidence.